Senior Congress leader in Maharashtra and former leader of opposition in the assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil on Tuesday resigned as an MLA, amid speculation that he may join the Bharatiya Janata Party and the state cabinet.
The Congress leader submitted his resignation as an MLA to Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade at his office. Bagade accepted his resignation, along with that of Congress MLA Abdul Sattar and state minister Girish Bapat.
Sattar said many more Congress MLAs are likely to quit the party soon.
Bapat quit as an MLA after winning the Lok Sabha polls from Pune as BJP candidate.
Vikhe Patil's quitting as member of the Lower House comes amid reports that he may be joining the BJP along with some Congress MLAs and may be inducted in the Devendra Fadnavis-led state ministry.
According to sources, Congress MLAs expected to join the BJP are Kalidas Kolambkar from Wadala assembly segment in Mumbai, Bharat Bhalake from Solapur, Jaykumar Gore from Satara, Gopaldas Agrawal from Gondia, Sunil Kedar from Nagpur and Rahul Bondre from Buldhana.
All these MLAs met Vikhe Patil at his residence on Tuesday.
Against the backdrop of these developments, senior Maharashtra minister Chandrakant Patil flew to Delhi to confer with BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Vikhe Patil's son Sujay had switched to the BJP from Congress and had contested Lok Sabha polls from Ahmedanagar, which he won with a margin of 2.81 lakh votes.
Vikhe Patil had quit as Leader of Opposition in March, days after his son joined the BJP.
Meanwhile, taking a swipe at these MLAs, Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant tweeted, "Despite getting lot of opportunities and posts from Congress, some people are keen on breaking the party. The Congress is 134-year-old.. It will revive. Good luck to those who betrayed the party."
Assembly elections are scheduled in Maharashtra later this year.